I’m Costa Rican, and have been living in Costa Rica for 44 years. I travel to Central America and within Costa Rica multiple times each year to visit new hotels, lodges, activities being offered, etc.
I am concerned about health issues as much as any other person. None of my friends or colleagues have had Zika virus. In over 22 years working in the tourism industry and over 10 years working for Wildland Adventures I’ve never met a client with a case of mosquito-borne disease. According to the data currently available, Zika is no worse than the flu and is a potential threat only to pregnant women. Only 1 in 5 people who contract Zika show symptoms, and if they do have symptoms it is usually only a slight fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis and goes away after a week.
Unless I or one of my traveling companions was pregnant or trying to get pregnant I would not hesitate to travel in any of the Central America countries. The CDC agrees with me, recommending protecting yourself from mosquito bites but not recommending delaying travel unless you are pregnant. (See the CDC’s Zika Virus in Central America.)
We recommend travelers protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeve, light-weight shirts and pants sprayed with permethrin repellent (designed for clothing not skin). Furthermore, on a Wildland Adventure in Central America you will be staying in accommodations built with screened windows and doors, sometimes air-conditioned, and often with mosquito netting over the bed, all of which provide essential protection in the early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are most active. When using sunscreen, it is best to apply it before insect repellent. To reduce risk of mosquito bites on hikes we avoid standing water where mosquitoes are most likely to hatch and breed. These recommendations mirror the CDC’s Mosquito Bite prevention for Travelers tips.
We are all concerned about consequences of the Zika virus and will be closely monitoring the situation. We hope that you will choose to take a few extra precautions and ‘go wild’ in the tropics. Call me if you are ready to “keep calm and travel on” with Wildland Adventures!!
Your Central America travel expert,